Posted on Nov 19, 2014
Next week is the beginning of the holiday season not only in Pennsylvania but around the country. It is a known fact that Pennsylvania car accidents and injuries, and traffic stops and citations frequently increase around the holidays. The best way to avoid accidents and trips to traffic court is to drive safely and know what to do if you are pulled over.
- Watch your speed. Driving too fast is one sure way to end up in an accident or with a ticket. In recent years, many states and provinces have tightened their laws on reckless driving. If you are caught exceeding a threshold speed, you may be charged criminally, rather than with a simple traffic citation. The penalties for reckless driving may include substantial fines, license suspension and even jail time for repeat offenders.
- Never drink and drive. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol puts your life and the lives of others in grave danger. Even blood alcohol levels below your state’s legal limit can impair your driving and increase your chance of injury or death in an accident. First offenses of DUI or DWI may land you in jail and leave you with a criminal record. The best way to avoid DUI or DWI accidents and criminal charges is to avoid drinking and driving all together.
- Never text or email while driving. Texting or using a smart phone while driving is now illegal in several states and many localities and may not only earn you a traffic ticket, but also injure or kill you. Numerous studies have shown that texting or using your smart phone while driving substantially increases your chance of injury or death. The number of injuries and deaths caused by distracted drivers has skyrocketed in recent years. Avoid serious injury and death (and tickets) by always safely pulling to the side of the road and stopping before texting or using your smart phone.
- Know how to handle a traffic stop. Being pulled over by the police can be a nerve-racking experience. Pull safely off the road, turn your interior light on at night, keep your hands on the steering wheel, be polite and cooperative with the police officer and address the officer as “sir” or “ma’am”. Comply with the officer’s requests for your name, driver's license, registration and insurance information. Do not exit the vehicle unless you are directed to do so by the officer. You do not have to consent to a search of your car. If the officer searches over your objection, stay calm, tell the officer you object to the search and do not physically resist the search.
- Be prepared for difficult weather. If you are driving in wet or icy weather, allow yourself extra time and drive with caution. If you are particularly uncomfortable driving in bad weather, stay off the road until conditions improve.
- Make sure you have the right car seat for your child. It is extremely important to protect your children by ensuring they are in the appropriate car seat for their age and size. Most states and provinces have strict laws regarding child safety seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a great resource to help parents ensure their children are protected. Click here to visit their website.
- Think twice before running a light. Running a red light may save you a few seconds, but it puts you, your passengers and other drivers around you at risk of serious injury or death. Drivers running red lights cause nearly 1,000 deaths and 90,000 injuries each year in the United States. Red light traffic cameras are now used throughout the U.S. and Canada, so even if you escape injury, you may not escape a ticket.
- Follow at a safe distance. In ideal road conditions you should leave at least 3 seconds between you and the car in front of you. If you are hauling a heavy load or driving in wet or icy conditions, leave at least 7 or 8 seconds between you and the car ahead of you. Rear-enders cause nearly as many deaths and injuries per year as intersection collisions.
If you or a loved one are seriously injured in an auto accident because the driver of a car, motorcycle, bus, or truck was careless, inattentive, drinking, texting or sleeping while driving, contact a car accident lawyer at Schmidt Kramer. We can answer any questions or concerns you have about a Pennsylvania car accident in Harrisburg, York, Camp Hill, Hershey, Chambersburg, Carlisle, and all of Pennsylvania.
The toll-free number is (717) 888-8888 or dial 8 at 717-888-8888 and the case evaluation is free. Alternatively, you may wish to download a free copy of our book Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured in an Automobile Accident? for additional information.